If the impending barrage of Hollywood’s award season offerings aren’t your kind of film experience, then the ReFrame Film Festival is your premiere destination for alternative media.
Featuring over 50 meticulously selected films, Peterborough and the Kawarthas’ flagship film festival continues to showcase the very best in international documentary cinema, with a wide range of stories designed to entertain, inspire and — most importantly — make you think.
With an attendance that continues to grow every year, ReFrame is anticipating another great season.
Festival director Krista English and her team have assembled yet another dynamic lineup that ranges range from audience favourites at Sundance to pieces crafted by Peterborough’s nationally renowned local artists.
Having spent the past year viewing literally hundreds of films ranging from feature length narratives to three-minute-long shorts, English explains that it’s always intriguing to see what subjects are trending in the film world.
“The films always act as a frame of reference for where we are in terms of a political as well as artistic perspective,” says English. “This year we have a prominent representation of food issues, whereas last year it was considerably more difficult to find quality material on the subject. We’ve known there is a crisis for years, so why now? Hopefully, the subject continues to have the attention it deserves.”
Cinema has long been considered a mirror of society itself. The stories we see in the film world represent massive shifts in attitude towards the environment and social justice which people now not only wish to acknowledge but drastically improve.
“I think that people come out on the strength of the buzz films and can really walk away having grasped something else,” English says. “This kind of soft activism helps bring awareness to the table.”
Another prominent theme this year is individuals making a difference on a global scale.
Director Stephanie Soechtig’s Fed Up exposes the deceptive nature of labelling food packaging and how this has resulted in one of the biggest health epidemics in American history, despite having been essentially sanctioned by the United States government.
In Living on the Edge, filmmaker Susan Woodfine examines the work of Joan Sullivan and her photography chronicling the climate change affecting communities along the St. Lawrence River. The film may document a Canadian experience, but it speaks to a frighteningly prominent global situation.
Woodfine will be in attendance at the annual Filmmaker’s Panel, which has become one of the must-see events of ReFrame. The panel offers the filmmakers’ insights into how they really address issues and use film as a means to achieve change.
As always, the main role of the Festival is curatorship. ReFrame has established a sterling reputation for what it decides to present to our fair community.
“Film is so available from a variety of sources that it can be overwhelming at times,” says English. “Endlessly sifting through Netflix can be a bit daunting, so even if someone misses a film screening at the festival, they’ll know what to look for down the road.”
When asked how the festival has changed from last year, English explains how the window from a theatrical release to home video continues to diminish and so too does the opportunity to see some spectacular imagery on a big screen.
“Watching a film at a festival with your community is considerably more impactful than watching it in your living room,” she affirms. “It truly creates discussion and we can see what’s really going on in the world.”
An exciting new addition to the festival roster is a collaboration with the stalwart downtown institution Artspace (378 Aylmer St. N., Peterborough). The gallery and media space will be home to innovative animation workshops as part of the Reel Kids program, which has already seen another runaway success with over 4000 registrations within the first four days.
Once again, ReFrame attendees can enrich their weekend via the ReFrame mobile app — available for both iOS and Android devices — to instantly access even more film specifics. With schedules, film and event listings (alphabetically and by category), venue maps, ticket info and more, you can plan your time at the film festival with ease. A new feature this year allows festival-goers to create a custom film “playlist” to easily keep track of which films they want to attend. Links to rhis year’s app will be available soon on the ReFrame website.
The festival will also showcase “Hand to Mouth”, a one-of-kind interactive art installation by artist Annie Jaeger (writer of the popular local arts blog Trout in Plaid). This installation continues the analysis of the role of food by inviting the audience to examine the relationship between nutrition and textiles.
At ReFrame, audiences can look forward to a diverse array of subjects that, as always, will set the topic of film conversation for the next 12 months.
For more details on the ReFrame experience, including ticket information, screening schedules, and a comprehensive list of the films being featured, visit www.reframefilmfestival.ca.
Trailers for Selected Films at the 2015 ReFrame Film Festival
Living on the Edge (Canada, 2014, 51 minutes, directed by Susan Woodfine) screens at Showplace on Saturday, January 24 at 10 a.m.
To be Takei (USA, 2014, 90 minutes, directed by Jennifer M. Kroot) screens at the Market Hall on Saturday, January 24 at 1:15 p.m.
Alive Inside (USA, 2014, 75 minutes, directed by Michael Rossato-Bennett) screens at the Market Hall on Saturday, January 24 at 7:30 p.m.
The Internet’s Own Boy: The Story of Aaron Swartz (USA, 2014, 105 minutes, directed by Brian Knappenberger), screens at Showplace on Sunday, January 25 at 12 p.m.
Fed Up (USA, 2013, 92 minutes, directed by Stephanie Soechtig) screens at the Market Hall on Sunday, January 25 at 4 p.m.